March 14, 1939

CCF

Angus MacInnis

Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (C.C.F.)

Mr. MacINNIS:

No.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

If we should not have restrictions upon the minister, we should not have a board to restrict, so I do not agree with my hon. friend's argument.

The remarks made by the Minister of Pensions and National Health (Mr. Power) merely strengthen me in my idea that I was right, because he points out that by clause 8 the board may, through the department, investigate or require information. But so far as I have read the bill-and I have read it pretty thoroughly two or three times-the only person with whom the board has any contact at all is the minister. It does not say that specifically in the bill, but it is certainly implied here, there and everywhere throughout the different sections.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

Look at paragraph (f) of section 8.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Paragraph (f) provides that the board:

(f) shall have power to require any officer or employee of the department to furnish to the board any information which he may have in regard to any of the matters falling within the scope of the duties and powers of the board.

All right. But look at clause 6:

It shall be the duty of the board to supervise the performance of all contracts which may have been entered into pursuant to the provisions of this Part with a view to assuring that such contracts are performed in accordance with their respective terms.

Imagine, if you like, the chairman of this board, a business man, as undoubtedly he will have to be, possibly with military training but very unlikely; he is going to supervise the letting of a contract for the department, and all he has before him are the specifications. He has nobody to talk them over with except the minister. True, he may call in the officers of the department; but if he had with him on the board an officer of the department who was familiar with its needs, a man who understood the military engineering requirements of the department, he would have somebody there who would be in a position to advise him all the time. Otherwise he is going to have to ask the minister, "Can I have such and such an officer brought here to talk over things?" Probably it can be worked, but I think it would be very much to the advantage of the board if the chairman, the business man, has someone associated with him with whom he can talk over these different matters which come before him, these different contracts, the requirements of the department in various ways, from, if possible, the military and naval points of view.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

One could not expect that the military man would know anything about the air or that the naval man would know anything about the army. So, to follow up my

Defence Purchasing Board

lion, friend's argument, all three men on the board would be soldiers, and we would be back where we started.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

They would know more

than either the minister or myself.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Perhaps I

might say a word with regard to what the leader of the opposition has just said. I do not know that he has fully appreciated just how difficult it is, not only for the minister but for the cabinet as a whole, to decide whether or not the requisitions which come from the defence department are absolutely necessary to the extent to which they are made out. As a member of the government, with others of my colleagues I have had occasion in the last couple of years to meet on several occasions with members of the defence council with respect to the requisitions which they were making upon the government in the form of proposed estimates, to consider those estimates with a view to discovering whether what was being requested was absolutely necessary or whether what was proposed was in excess of what was really required. My experience on these occasions- and I think it was the experience of my colleagues as well-was that unless we had some independent board to whom we could refer the requisitions with a view to ascertaining whether they were really necessary, there was no way of getting that information except taking in its entirety what the heads of the different departments said was required.

Take, for example, the militia. Take the air; take the naval service. All of these branches of the defence department have asked from this government amounts vastly in excess of anything that appears in the estimates as brought down. They have told us that what we have brought down to this house at the present time is not at all adequate for the situation as they see it. We have had to examine them and cross-examine them, and study the matter very carefully ourselves before having estimates brought in here. My hon. friend knows that estimates are discussed in the cabinet as a whole, but the defence estimates in addition have been considered by a sub-committee of the cabinet with members of the defence council. I say to my hon. friend, from the experience I have had on that committee of the cabinet dealing with the heads of services of the defence department, that I feel one of the most necessary of all things is to have a board which will be entirely independent of the heads of the defence branches, which will be in a position to advise the government, if the government wished to be so advised,

as to whether or not what is being asked for is absolutely necessary in the circumstances. That objective would be defeated in part, I think, by what my hon. friend has suggested. There is nothing to prevent this defence board from having the closest contact with the head of each branch of the defence department. Not only can they meet, but they are expected to have close contact with the heads of these branches. But to attach to that board itself the head of any one of those services, or one who is supposed to represent all of them, would, in my opinion, tend to defeat one of the very objects for which the board is being appointed.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

Is my right hon. friend suggesting that this board is going to .advise the government as to our requirements from a military or a naval standpoint?

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

Quite.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

I do not think this board should do any such thing. This board is a purchasing board. As I understand it, it is to see that all contracts entered into by the Department of National Defence are honest and above-board; that they are efficiently carried out, and that the government and the people of Canada get their money's worth in all regards. The minister has not said who are going to be on the board. He has not given us any indication.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

I do not know.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

But he has not contradicted what I think must be true, that the chairman will be a business man, not a naval or military man. The minister said in reply to me that he probably would not be both, anyway; therefore he is going to be a business man. The other three will be advisory. Are these three advisers and the business man to come to this government and tell them what we are going to need in the way of defence? I do not think they are going to do that. But if the government are convinced by their advisers that a contract is needed for the defence of this country, the board is going to see to it that a contract is entered into which is decent and is fair to the people of Canada. That is all that is intended, so far as I can see.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

My hon.

friend may know more about the legislation than I do, but I can assure him that, along with my colleagues, I have given a great deal of thought and consideration to this bill, and one of the objects the government had in mind in the appointment of this

Defence Purchasing Board

board was that the board should have power to ascertain, if so desired, whether or not what was being asked for by the defence department was absolutely necessary. I think that is clearly set forth in section 8, which at the moment I need not go into in detail. But observe the very first paragraph :

For the purpose of carrying out its powers under this part, the board

(a) may inquire into the requirements, whether actual or anticipated, of the department for defence equipment, or for defence projects, the specifications thereof and the reasons therefor.

That is the very first of the powers given to the board, to inquire into these things to see whether they are necessary or not.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Alfred Johnson Brooks

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. BROOKS:

May I ask the Prime

Minister from whom they would make their inquiries if it would not be from the very men he has mentioned?

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

William Lyon Mackenzie King (Prime Minister; Secretary of State for External Affairs; President of the Privy Council)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE KING:

They will make these inquiries from the officers of the departments They will weigh the reasons, and they will take any means which they may think most advisable to satisfy their minds on this point. Paragraph (f) of section 8 says that the board-

. . . shall have power to require any officer or employee of the department to furnish to the board any information which he may have in regard to any of the matters falling within tlfe scope of the duties and powers of the board.

I must say that I think that aspect of the board's work is one of the most important of the duties it will have to discharge, and I believe that that duty will be much better performed if the personnel of the board is kept quite distinct from that of the defence council, although I agree that, as between the chairman of the board and the members of the defence council, there should be the opportunity for the fullest possible kind of collaboration in any particular which either of them may consider to be desirable.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

In view of that, will the Prime Minister give us some idea as to what he considers these four men should be. One man is to give his full time, and three others will be in an advisory capacity, because all they are receiving is their out-of-pocket expenses. The Prime Minister suggested a few moments ago in his remarks that he thought this board should be independent of the defence department, and surely one man put on from the defence council is not going to be able to vote down four. He is only one out of five; he is well diluted, if I may use that word, and the four can vote him down

any time. He is there only to give them advice. I would have no objection to the suggestion made by a couple of other hon. members, that it be worked the other way, and that the chairman of the board be a member, if you like, of the defence council.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of National Defence)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE (Vancouver):

That

would not require to be inserted in this legislation at all. That could be easily done afterwards-could be considered.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Robert James Manion (Leader of the Official Opposition)

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. MANION:

This legislation should be reasonably complete. I do not care for the minister's suggestion, which he has made three or four times to-night, that we should pass the legislation on his word that he will do this, that and the other thing which are not taken care of in the legislation. I do not think we should be asked in this committee to do that. We should know the type of people of which this board is going to be composed. Certainly, if it is to be a board which will go to and advise the governor in council what we require in the way of defence, naval, air and military, it is going to be a pretty wide board. It is to be composed of four men, one of them giving his permanent time, a business man who probably does not know anything at all about military, naval or air affairs, and the other three just giving support to him. That, to me, is the most extraordinary proposal I have yet heard in regard to this legislation.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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CON

Karl Kenneth Homuth

Conservative (1867-1942)

Mr. IIOMUTH:

I would say that the very argument used by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Pensions and National Health is an argument in favour of the amendment. If, as the Minister of Pensions and National Health says, these military men have not necessarily the business ability required, they are nevertheless going to make certain recommendations. Let us take, for instance, aeroplane engines. The best aeroplane engine in the world is the Rolls-Royce. Suppose they said we needed 100 or 200 Rolls-Royce engines and the recommendation went to the purchasing board. The board would make inquiries and would find out that these engines would have to be bought in England. What else could they do? This board, working along with the defence council, would have to ascertain what was the best engine to use in aeroplanes, and if the Rolls-Royce engine could not be obtained then something else would have to take its place. They might say, "Let us develop an engine in Canada." Some of the automobile firms could do it. The work of the two boards would be so closely coordinated that in my opinion they ought to have a much closer working arrangement than is provided for in this bill.

Defence Purchasing Board

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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LIB

Charles Gavan Power (Minister of Pensions and National Health)

Liberal

Mr. POWER:

The suggestion is not quite accurate. I am not familiar with all the work of the Department of National Defence, but it seems to me it is never the defence council that makes requisitions. The matter which my hon. friend is discussing, the question of aviation, would be one for the head of the aviation branch. At present it goes to the director of contracts and the director of contracts is a civilian. May I remind the committee that traditionally in Great Britain it has always been considered advisable to have civilian direction of matters of this kind. The direction of military services has been, as far as possible, under somebody not connected with the active army, and to a large extent the same thing obtains in the navy. It so happens that since the last war the incumbents sf these positions have been men who have served in the army, but they are not as a rule, professional soldiers. That tradition, I believe, has arisen for a reason. The people of Great Britain have not wished their defence departments to be ruled by professional soldiers, and I think that is pretty well inbred in the British tradition.

Personally I am not convinced that when the aviation branch goes to this board and says, "We think the best engine is the Rolls engine," it would not be better to have the board say, "Look here, young fellow, the Rolls engine costs too much; we cannot afford it; if another engine will do just as well, let us have it." It is the same in every department. I suggest to the leader of the opposition that in the Canadian National Railways the purchasing agent was not an engineer. I do not know whether he is or not, really, but as a matter of fact he had not been practising as a professional engineer. I refer to Mr. Vaughan. When it came to buying engineering equipment or locomotives, it was likely that the man who wanted to buy the locomotives or a certain type of railway truck would go to Mr. Vaughan and say, "We need this type of equipment," and I suggest that in the course of his duties Mr. Vaughan might reply, "That is too expensive; can you not get a cheaper one that will serve the same purpose?" Many times he may have had difficulties with his technical men- I do not know that he had; I am only guessing. The leader of the opposition was Minister of Railways and he may have heard some such thing.

In a department like the Department of National Defence, technical men might ask for the very best equipment, when perhaps another kind would be just as good. I suggest that the purpose of the board is as much control over purely technical men, who

naturally cannot have the business knowledge of people outside, as it is for anything else, and I say that without intending to cast the least reflection on any member of the militia council or on the Department of National Defence.

Topic:   NATIONAL DEFENCE
Subtopic:   CREATION OP DEFENCE PURCHASING BOARD TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS FOR MUNITIONS, EQUIPMENT, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
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March 14, 1939